Sunday, January 9, 2011

Prophecy as Post-modern Adventure

I enjoyed a new novel over Christmas Break.

It isn't an easy read but one that enchanted me.

The novel is broken into eight books with a prologue and epilogue and centers on the ruminations of JohnThomas Didymus who operates as hero and pseudonymous author.

It begins with the hero's stay in a mental hospital travels through an alternative Christian resurrection story down to various theories on the unification of reality and finally lands on an apocalyptic first-person perspective wrought with subjective meaning.

The novel reads like post-modern scripture and renders an implicit argument to the effect that deep religious certainty is best held within advanced autism and solipsism.

The choice of the author (who shall remain nameless here but for disclosure's sake is a colleague and friend) to attribute the authorship to his hero is an essential creative device in amplifying the novel's theme.

The theme is best stated by the author in Book 5 "The Temptations",
"Life and existence are a riddle
But a good riddle
Is a good fiddle
You may want to play to any tune which suits your fancy."
The nature of religious conviction is exposed as the hero journeys by way of religious epiphany towards ontological certainty. Didymus embodies hints of St. Paul in his sense of glorified persecution, Mohammad and Joseph Smith in their revelatory convictions and St. John of Patmos in his yearning apocalyptic.

There is even a hint to the technical Christian philosophy of men like Alvin Plantinga or Richard Swinburne and New Age theoretician Deepak Chopra in the author/hero's insistence that his scientific scholarship while non-falsifiable remains valid due to its inner conviction to its personal meaning. Our hero/author explains while speaking of himself as both observer and reporter,
"He lived dangerously on the edge of mental chaos at which he was free to expand unlimitedly beyond mere synthesis; explore new conceptual approaches to old problems, armed with a magicians hat which imposed no binding pre-conditions of logic in the divergence of his mind to infinity."
Men like Swinburne and Plantinga misuse the mathematics of Bayesian theory to argue from probability the likelihood of miracles without giving assent to the necessary zero-probability of miraculous priors. Chopra speaks of Quantum events as if small-scale physics is related to the numinous feelings he packages. "Confessions of God" uses the musings of its hero to contextualize the category of serious modern theologies and exposes them all as a complicated self-deference.

I enjoyed this book and if you are given to choose fantastic entertainments that conceal their ideological arguments in technical craftsmanship like David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest"; the magical realism of Salman Rushdie; or the films of Darren Aronofsky then I think you will enjoy this book too.

Strong recommendations for "Confessions of God" as an intelligent expose on how religious certainty begins and ends with self-centered conviction.


LadyAtheist said...

As the child of a schizophrenic who married my step-father, whose MS resulted in schizoprhenia-like symptoms and whose brother became schizophrenic about 10 years ago... I think I'll pass.

...though you had me going with it beginning in a psych ward. I was expecting more L. Ron than Paul, with that starter.

LadyAtheist said...

err my mom married my stepfather, not me. heh I'm not crazy just tired!

Chuck O'Connor said...


I don't know enough about L. Ron to use him as a reference but want to learn more (I read a very creepy article on Tom Cruise recently and realize I know nothing of Scientology). Do you have any books worth checking out that covers the Thetan Theology?

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting Chuck. Have you read "God is Dead" by Ron Currie, Jr.? .."God has inhabited the mortal body of a young woman in the Sudan. When she is killed, he dies along with her. Faced with the hard proof that there is no supreme being in charge, the world is irrevocably transformed."..
I enjoyed it quite a bit.

All the best
Mrs. N